Middlebury dropped its season opener to visiting Colby Saturday in Kenyon Arena as the Mules skated to a 9-1 win. The Panthers (0-1-0, 0-1-0) host Bowdoin on Sunday at 4:00 p.m., while the Mules (1-0-0, 1-0-0) visit Williams.
Colby opened the scoring at the 2:43 mark of the first period when Mario Benicky one-timed a cross-ice pass from Mike Rudolf in the right circle. The Mules struck again 4:04 later as Nick O'Connor lifted a rebound over Middlebury goalie Stephen Klein for a 2-0 edge.
Middlebury needed only 18 seconds to answer on a tremendous individual effort by Brendan Dawson. The Panther retrieved the puck in his own zone, weaved his way through the neutral zone, beat a defender and banked a shot off the post to make it a 2-1 game. Middlebury came close to getting the equalizer later in the period when Alex Heinritz had a shot from close range and Charlie Lawrence had a stab at the rebound, but Colby net minder Sean Lawrence made two nice saves.
In the second stanza, the visitors increased the margin to 3-1 when J.P. Schuhlen tucked a rebound under the cross bar with 4:14 expired for a power-play tally. The hosts had a chance to get the goal back less than a minute later when they had 1:58 of a 5x3 power play, but were held at bay by the Mules. Schuhlen added another power-play marker with 7:34 left in the period after a nice lead pass from Rudolf. Colby made it a 5-1 contest four minutes later on Sean Holly's shot from the bottom of the left circle.
In the final 20 minutes, the Mules scored four more times with Joe Schuler tallying at the 10:26 mark, while Benicky added two in a span of 35 seconds for the hat trick. Schuhlen completed his hat trick with 1:08 remaining to close out the scoring.
Klein started in goal for the Panthers and finished with 18 saves in 31:49 of ice time, while Brian Ketchabaw recorded nine saves in 20:39. Henry Cutting registered three stops in the final 6:55. Sean Lawrence had 22 saves for Colby, as the Mules held a 39-23 advantage in shots.
The visitors finished 3-5 on the power play, while Middlebury was 0-3.